For artists, an art portfolio is a necessary part for finding jobs. Having a professional and clean portfolio will impress employers and create more work opportunities. The portfolio is your business card that promotes your skills as oftentimes people come across your portfolio first rather than you showing it to them.
Art portfolios represent your skills and history as an artist. They are also the first impression that the viewer will get from you and decide whether they see you as a professional or a hobbyist – or if you should be employed or not.
This lesson is more focused on digital portfolios, but the same tips can be applied to traditional portfolios as well.
Many artists may wonder if a digital portfolio should be used instead of a traditional one. Or should they even have both? The simple answer is yes – you should have both. The internet is available for most people, so stumbling upon your digital portfolio is more likely than seeing printouts. However, while participating in an interview or taking part in networking events, prepare your portfolio so that you can quickly show your artwork in good quality. Smartphones are one option, but they often lack screen size and will not show the art as you intended, so maybe carry a tablet with you if possible or consider printing out your best work.
Traditional portfolios are still also valuable. When printing artworks, make sure the paper is of higher quality than just a basic printing paper. Regular printing paper can't usually handle large amounts of ink and the paper can get wrinkly. Matte, cotton rag, and canvas are popular art print papers, and the density of the paper also affects the result of the print. Experiment to find the best art print paper for your portfolio.
It's more of a rule than an exception for a digital artist to have some sort of a portfolio on a digital platform. Social media platforms like Instagram can be used for sharing your artwork, but they’re not made for showcasing your skills in an interview.
Social media is a great place for gathering a following and selling your own art prints and other products, but when searching for jobs, invest time in building a professional-looking portfolio. You can use a ready portfolio platform, like Behance or Artstation, that offers tools for editing the site to suit more your needs. Making a website entirely from scratch is one option too, as it allows you to make the site just as you please, but you should also consider website builders like Squarespace or Wix.
When you land an interview, be it online or face-to-face, set your portfolio ready. Test all the connections, make sure the online portfolio works and that the traditional portfolio contains all the work you want to show.
Even before applying for a job, research the employer. Are they a game development company or are they more focused on other products like animations? If you have time, make a few art pieces that could be used in their products. If the company makes realistic-looking games, don't showcase your highly stylized art of dogs and wise versa. Interviewers may also test your knowledge of the company, so if the company is unknown to you, their websites offer a lot of usable information, so browse them carefully. Before the interview, organize the portfolio to show the best work first to make a good impression on the interviewer. Have the work categorized by the subject; keep character art and environment art in their own sections.
Some employers can set pre-assignments or test your skills during the interview, so prepare for them. For pre-assignments, reserve enough time so you avoid the mistakes caused by stress and lack of time. Read the invitations with care as they include the necessary information for the interview process.
Don't just slap your artwork into the portfolio without any thought. The portfolio is your business card, the first impression you give for possible employers. Spend time with it and think of it as one of your artworks. Make it represent you as an artist and as a person.